100 Best Books for Children ~ Old Boy

The last two books covered morals and manners for girls; now we have morals and manners for boys. Notes for Boys (and Their Fathers) on Morals, Mind, and Manners is number 77 on The Hundred Best Books for Children by Baldwin.

In researching this book, there were no less three authors credited with writing Notes for Boys. Possible authors include lawyer and Catholic convert Edward Bellasis, English lawyer William Trotman Stower Hewett to his sons, and even one of the Hales. Part of the confusion may be due to the original English printing and subsequent American version. Most catalogs simply listed the author as “Notes” so we’ll leave it as anonymous.

Notes for Boys addresses ethical and moral instruction, such as:

  • Unselfishness.
  • Honesty.
  • Courage.
  • Courtesy.
  • Generosity.
  • Patience.
  • Modesty.
  • Choice of friends.
  • Health.
  • Ambition.
  • Books.

And quite a bit more. The main theme is the foundation of character.

Though there are a couple of modern books that address this subject, it is very difficult to find books that young men will appreciate enough to read:

Books that fairly and squarely announce themselves as books of good advice to boys are seldom regarded in advance with much favor by the constituency to which they desire to appeal. It may be open to doubt, indeed, whether persons much older than boys feel inclined to give rapturous welcome to that oftentimes unpalatable article, unless it be skillfully disguised. In Notes for Boys (and their fathers) on Morals, Mind and Manners, however, we have a large amount of very excellent advice so pleasantly given that most intelligent lads would find it very agreeable reading. The book is a reprint from the English edition, without alteration, and though occasionally some of the remarks made and advice given do not apply to the conditions of American society, the topics are in themselves of interest to all boys beginning to grow up; and are treated with discrimination. The chapters on Courtesy and Gentlehood, Purity and Temperance, and Men and Women, are especially excellent, and evidently the honest opinions of a robust and yet sympathetic mind. From a Church standpoint, the one brief chapter on Religion is vague and unsatisfying, but the writer’s own firm belief in the necessity of religion as the main-spring of a true manly life is quite evident; and he distinctly states that he is writing on morals, and only speaks of “the external aspects of religion, rather than its vital elements.” The book, on the whole, is admirable in tone, and most boys would, having commenced, read it to the end.

The Church Review, Volumes 51–52, January 1888

If you are looking for a book in this area and find Baldwin’s suggestion lacking, you can’t go wrong with a study of Proverbs.

Free eBook

  • Young men can work through the book one chapter at a time and provide narrations.
  • You might also try oral narrations, which will provide interesting (and hopefully fruitful) times of discussion.

Additional Resources

Character Study {Free Download}
“Building Character: A Bible Study for Adolescents and Teens” is a free character study download from the C.S. Lewis Institute.

The Hundred Best Books for Children ~ Introduction
The Hundred Best Books for Children

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